1. Do I have the right to demand counseling since he refuses to discuss anything with me? Our marriage was not perfect, but it was better than most until he lost 170 lbs. and started feeling he deserved more. I don't mean to be naive, but we haven't tried counseling at all. 2. My 14 year old son does not want to visit his dad. I do not encourage this. He is very upset with his dad. Instead of trying to understand, my husband is very firm and belligerent and is making threats about custody. He forces my son to visit even though it is making the situation worse. What are my options? Does my son have any rights?
The court can order counseling. If it's important to you and you believe it may be helpful, you should push for it. As far as custody, the court may consider a child's preference. A child's opinion carries more weight based on age and maturity. At 14 a Judge may well consider your son's input before making a custody order.
I agree that counseling is probably important for both of you, especially in light of the fact that he just lost 170 pounds. He probably needs counseling just to cope with such a huge change in his life alone, but with a family, it is even more compelling.
As for your son, at 14, most courts will start to listen to his thoughts on the matter, but that will also depend upon his maturity and how well he communicates.
However, in most states, if a child refuses to visit with another parent, that parent may petition to stop child support payments due to alienation of affection or other impact of losing his child as far as he's concerned. Now here is where counseling would be vastly beneficial for both of them and perhaps the entire family. It sounds like your family is going through a substantial change and the best thing you can do is reassure your son that things will eventually work out for all of you. Make sure to avoid helping him to become alienated from your husband because that can often have negative long term effects upon him.
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Court ordered counseling is rare unless it relates to children and visitation or custody matters. If your husband does not want to communicate with you a court order forcing him to go to counseling probably will not help. You may want to get some counseling to help deal with the break up of your marriage. As to you son, the court will eventually force him to see his father regardless if he committed adultery or not. If you have a lawyer why aren't you asking her these questions?If you do not have an attorney you need to get one to protect your rights.
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While the no-fault divorce law allows you to petition the court to request that your husband be ordered to attend marriage counseling with you, many judges are reluctant to do so. They are reluctant to do so because it is difficult to demand that someone communicate with you during counseling. Quite frankly, your husband can be required to attend counseling, but he cannot be ordered to participate, so that he can attend, but refuse to discuss anything with you. On the other hand, if you manage to work with the right counselor, it is possible that the counselor can help your husband understand the benefits of counseling.
As for the issues between your son and his dad, in most situations, the court will require parent-child counseling. The court's goal is for parents and children to maintain a relationship, even if it means spending limited time together. Children can testify to their wishes and certainly a 14 year old has the right. However, I always first recommend counseling. I assume, since you state that your husband "forces" your son to visit that there is a pending custody order. If there is not, and if your son is adamant about not wanting to be with his father, don't send him to his dad's, but instead require dad to file a petition for custody which will then allow these issues to be aired. If there is a current custody order, then file a Petition to Modify and state your reasons for doing so. This, too, will allow these issues to be addressed. Good luck, Ellen Fischer
Yes, you can request an order to compel him into marriage counseling.
As far as custod.. The judge will want to hear from the child and that will be one factor that the court considers when entering a custody order. The court will, absent some other issues not mentioned here, order some period of visitation with the father.
If you haven't already retained a lawyer, you should do so asap.
Justin C. Gearty Jr., Esquire
This post is for educational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship.
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